BY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings
HARTFORD, CT - The Wolf Pack got two goals and an assist from Danny Kristo to power their way past the Adirondack Phantoms 5-2 before a franchise eighth worst regular season crowd of 1,883 at the XL Center Wednesday night.
The Wolf Pack are now 15-22-0-5 (35 points) and won their second game in a row, but are still dead last in the AHL, one behind Utica.
Adirondack falls to 21-19-0-2 (44 points) six behind Providence in ninth place in the conference. They trail red hot Hershey in eighth with three games in hand (50 points.).
The Pack forwards who have struggled the first half of the season gave Dov Grumet-Morris the scoreboard support he needed. Ryan Bourque was highly effective on almost every shift and T.J. Hensick registered three assists in the winning effort.
“It wasn’t a very good start. We rebounded shortly thereafter, discount the start, we had a very good game,” Head Coach Ken Gernander said.
The Wolf Pack pulled away in the third period with two goals. The first was Kristo’s second of the game and team leading sixteenth of the season banging in a rebound of Hensick’s at 6:10.
“It wasn’t a perfect shot, but I got it on net and a player like Danny will be there and put it in,” Hensick said. The newly acquired forward has nine points in eight games since being taken off waivers from Abbotsford.
The Pack sealed the deal on Oscar Lindberg’s tenth of the season extending his point scoring streak to six games. Out-dueling defenseman Olivier Lauridsen in the neutral zone, Lindberg raced down the right wing and whistling his shot past Cal Heeter with authority at 14:46.
The Pack came out with some fire early in the second as Micheal Haley took on Lauridsen in a scrap. Lauridsen had eight inches on Haley in their scrap, but afterwards, Lauridsen caught Lindberg with his right leg outstretched at 16 seconds.
Haley got the decision and the Pack got an early powerplay.
“Guys really appreciate when a player does that. He caught Lindy who is one of our offensive players and he always has players back,” Gernander said of one of his assistant captains.
The Pack struck on the powerplay at 56 seconds. Bourque completed a perfect rush that he started and finished after taking a short pass from Aaron Johnson on the left wing, who in turn received a great cross ice pass from Hensick. Bourque buried the ninth, and fourth in his last six games.
A perfect three way offensive rush and a 2-1 lead.
“I have to do what I do best and get in the forecheck,” Bourque said. “I am playing with good players and they got me the puck and I just got to finish it.” Bourque has four goals in the last six games.
The Wolf Pack made it a two goal lead when Kristo used his speed and snapshot to great effect.
The whole play was started by goalie Grumet-Morris, who put a pass to defenseman Conor Allen, who in turn fed Darroll Powe, who found Kristo in the neutral zone and Kristo turned up the speed.
Kristo then toe dragged the puck past Phantoms defenseman and former CT Whale, Steve Delisle. The move sent Delisle skidding into the right wing boards.
Kristo then snapped his team leading fifteenth of the season past Heeter at 9:32 to give the Pack a 3-1 lead.
“I got some good speed there and caught the defenseman pretty flat footed. I had a plan originally to go wide and he lunged and I just pulled back. Sometimes, when you catch a D man flat footed like that, you can try a play like that,” said Kristo.
The Phantoms eased it back to a one goal game on a weak play all-around. Coming off the right wing, Marcel Noebels took a pass, from who else, but Wolf Pack killer Jason Akeson. Noebels went around and then slipped a soft backhander that went off of Grumet-Morris’ pad after he tried stacking the pads. The puck trickled over the goal line for Noebels’ second goal of the season at 16:41.
The Phantoms scored once again in the first two minutes of the game, the third time in the last five games, that the Wolf Pack have allowed that.
Tye McGinn was wide open on the right wing and took a pass from former CT Whale, Kris Newbury at 47 seconds. McGinn finished burying his eleventh of the season.
The Whale evened the game at one late in the first period as defenseman Danny Syvret was just inside the blue line, about 55 feet out and let a rocket go. The puck clanged off the post past Heeter at 16:40 on the powerplay with a Haley screen and the Phantoms defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon. The goal was Syvret’s fifth of the season.
“There wasn’t a lot of energy in the building, so we did a good job getting back and once we got that goal we took off. That was the spark we needed to get the equalizer near the end of the first. We were able to regroup and establish our identity with the forecheck in the second,” said Kristo.
A small play by Hensick didn’t go unnoticed by his coach. “Hensick did a great job settling that puck down and allowed everybody to get in position. He fed Johnner (Aaron Johnson) and Syvie took a really good shot,”.
- There will be three more meetings between the two teams for the season. The Phantoms are moving to Allentown, PA after the season into the brand new 8,500 seat PPL Center part of a $272 million dollar hotel, office towers and arena complex set to open next September. Meanwhile, at their current home in Glens Falls, NY it’s said that there are negotiations with another NHL organization to relocate there next fall. The likely candidate would be the Portland Pirates who are playing this season in Lewiston, Maine at the Androscroggin Colisee after a lease dispute and subsequent lawsuit against the Cumberland County Commission, the overseer of the Cumberland County Civic Center who are just completing a $33 million dollar renovation to the building built in the mid-1970’s. The team has a new majority owner Ron Cain, who has dropped the lawsuit and negotiations have resumed. Both parties are supporting a bill that would allow the licensee to share liquor revenue with a tenant that is bring proposed by the Maine legislature which is currently not permitted. The other area of contention is the sub-naming rights of luxury suites which the team wants 100% and the building says they get all the revenue from the suites. (Info obtained from the Portland Press Herald)
- Sound Tigers reassigned Matt Lowry to Evansville (ECHL). He scored against them last week. In addition, goalie Parker Milner, the one time Avon Old Farms player who played well in two games against Hartford was sent back to Stockton (ECHL).
- Worcester lost its Double AA affiliate, the San Francisco Bulls, who folded on Monday after failing to meet an ECHL extended deadline to find new ownership. Seven players were reassigned to Worcester and those with ECHL contracts are expected to be sent to Ontario (ECHL) by the end of the week.
- Big news will be coming out of Springfield next Tuesday where a major press conference has been scheduled. The possibility of the sale of the Springfield Falcons to the MGM Grand could take place. MGM is one of three finalists for the casino license bid for Western, Massachusetts. The other two are the Hard Rock International that wants to build in West Springfield where the US Basketball Hall of Fame is located and the Connecticut based Mohegan Sun that wants to put casino in Palmer, MA. The Bay State government in Boston is expected to make a decision known in March. The purchase could be a part of their final bid proposal to the state and put them in the drivers seats in winning the bid. The arena, a state owned facility, the Mass Mutual Center is also run by Global Spectrum who runs the XL Center.
- Former Wolf Pack defenseman Bryce Lampman has left Florida (ECHL) to complete his season in Europe with Lorenskog IK in Norway. Grumet-Morris played half a season there two years ago.
- Another defenseman, Chris Murray, was loaned by Nottingham (England) to SC Bietigheim in Germany in the lower DEL-2 league.
- Former Springfield Falcon Alexander Svitov was named to the Russian Olympic team to take the place of the injured. Svitov who currently plays for AK Bars Kazan in the KHL.
- Former Wolf Pack forward Mikael Samuelsson was sent to Grand Rapids by the parent Detroit Red Wings. It’s the first time he has been to the AHL since he played eight games with the Pack back in 2001-02 and has 699 NHL games played.Springfield assigned Tim Miller, who they acquired from Chicago to Evansville (ECHL), Defenseman Cody Golobeuf was recalled by Columbus.
- New Canaan native and former Taft Prep player Jack Downing was recalled by Providence from South Carolina (ECHL).